Tuesday, November 30, 2010

End of November

Where has this month gone? Did you have a good Thanksgiving?  Did you get to spend time with family?

DD has a major deadline coming up next week, so we didn't get to see her this holiday.  It'll be Christmas soon, though, and I hope she has some vacation time left and can spend more than just a couple of days here.

We did have a couple of visitors, though.  Well, Tandi and I did. Tandi wants them to play, but I think they come by hoping I'll go back to giving them treats again.

The black and white dog loves to chase cars, and I'm worried one day she'll get hit. This was just as a car was coming up the street.

The brown dog is shyer, but has the sweetest expression in her eyes. I'd adopt her in a heartbeat if we didn't have Tandi.

I don't know to whom they belong, but I think they're the reason Tandi got fleas earlier this summer, so I don't encourage them to stick around.

As for me, I had 4 days of PDO to use or lose by Christmas,  so I took one day last week, and will be spacing the other 3 out during the next few weeks.  Since I was off  Mon-Fri night, I decided to go ahead and cook, even though there were only going to be the two of us, and one of us is on the South Beach Diet. 

Challenges can be so overrated.

I did try some new dishes off Kalyn's Kitchen website:   baked artichoke hearts au gratinDouble Berry Jello salad, and SBD-friendly Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie with a crushed pecan crust.  Oh, my, goodness.  That pie was SO good.  Jack had dressing with gravy, and pecan pie, but he liked my cranberry salad better than the canned jellied stuff he usually prefers.

My weight loss has ping-ponged between 31 and 33 lbs for the last 3 weeks, and I think I'm going to have to go back on phase 1 for a few days just to get back in the right mindset. Now that I've lost enough to be comfortable in the next size down, I find my motivation to be slipping a bit. In 2 weeks I go back to my doc for repeat bloodwork and I am expecting much better numbers and a pat on the back. Maybe that'll help. I haven't told DD yet, and she hasn't seen me since July, so there's another reason to keep plugging.

Outside the weather was beautiful the last 2-3 weeks, with temps in the low 60s, until a cold front came through on Fri., and now the nighttime temps are below freezing. The Bradford pears are the last to change colors and drop their leaves, holding on to autumn as long as they can. 

They're also the first to announce that spring is on the way, with hard little buds appearing as early as February.  It's as if they know their time on earth is limited and they don't want to spend any more time sleeping than Mother Nature makes them.  One of them is struggling mightily, and I don't know if it will last the winter, or collapse with the first ice storm. Maybe we'll get lucky and not have any ice storms this year.


My manager at work asked if I'd head up the Christmas decorating of ICU/Telemetry this year, because I "had such a fantastic Halloween display".  Pure flattery, as he didn't see it himself, and besides, being able to do Creepy and Macabre does not guarantee one can do Comfort and Joy.  But I'm a sucker for flattery, so I agreed.

Since themes seem to help me stay focused, I made an executive decision and chose "An Old-Fashioned Christmas".  We have a lot of elderly patients who will enjoy it, and I think it's something most people can relate to, whether we've experienced these ourselves, or watched "The Waltons" on TV or seen Norman Rockwell's work.  

Here's hoping I can pull this off--but if not, someone else will get asked next year and I'll be off the hook, right?

Thursday, November 11, 2010


The yard looks bare without all the Hallowe'en stuff in it.

 All that's left are the two wheat straw bales with some pumpkins on top, the little skeleton who is also perched on it and waving to passersby, and the spiderweb on the house that I can't quite get to behind the bales.

 I spent most of last Tues. and Wed. pulling everything down, as it was supposed to rain, and then spent Thurs. and Fri. in continuing education classes. Then it was time to go back to work, so lots of items are piled on the back porch for now, waiting to be sorted into the various storage bins.

For years, I managed to miss working the fall time change night--a 13-hr shift--because it fell on the last Sunday in October, and that was usually close enough to Hallowe'en to be included in my "vacation" time.  Now that they've extended it an extra week, it ain't happening. Drats.  Then, to my pleased surprise, census dropped on Saturday and I was put on call--and didn't have to come in. Dodged another one! I used the time to cut open some of those pumpkins that never got carved, and tried a couple of  recipes using the seeds: both found on Delia's blog. Still haven't found a recipe I really like--and there are probably 8-9 pumpkins left out there.  I hate for them to go to waste, so maybe I should just clean and dry the seeds and toss them out for the wildlife. Do critters eat the insides of the pumpkins, too? I know Tandi was trying to get at one.

The weather's been mild this week, with highs in the mid 60s, though it has been windy. Tandi and I spent a lot of time outdoors on Tues, futilely raking leaves off the bushes and out of the flower beds.  Our friend the Mower Man has a mulching attachment on his riding mower, which saves me from having to fill bag after bag with leaves.  The Bradford Pears are always the last to drop their leaves, and they are holding on mightily. Last week's cold snap killed off the last of the coleus, celosia and herbs, and the Mexican heather is about to give up the ghost. The tipsy pots came down and are stored in the crawl space until spring.

This is the one plant in it that hasn't died yet.  I believe it was the only perennial in the pots, and I'm not sure if I should at least put it on the back porch, or in the house, or ust leave it outdoors to renew itself in the spring.

It's supposed to stay mild through the weekend, so I may have one last chance to get some spring bulbs into the ground. Even the rose bush is still blooming. 

 It was warm enough that when I got tired, I just plopped into the hammock, which is up for just a few days longer. With a light quilt, it would have been easy to take a nap out there.

I'm really itching to get into the sewing room, which is in a critical state of havoc right now.

There are UFOs in there, pleading to be finished, not the least of which is the string quilt I started for DD 2 years ago. 

 I got stuck when it came time to sandwich it, and I'm still not sure what to do. The strings are sewn onto muslin, of course, making them a double layer already, so they only need a fabric backing.  But the border is only a single layer, so do I try to cut a thin batting for the already attached border and then baste the whole thing to a fabric batting?  Or do I just quilt the border more densely, giving it the weight it needs to hold up to the string center? 

No one has had answers for me so far. I wish I hadn't put a border on it, but I ran out of the fabric I was using for the center string, so couldn't make any more squares, and adding a border was the only way to make it large enough for a sofa quilt. 
If you've got any suggestions for me, I'd appreciate it, because I'd really like to get this finished and off to her so she can enjoy it before spring gets here again!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010


Whew!  It's over.  363 days to plan the next Halloween. No matter how much I think I have it all planned out, the last day or so, sometimes the last couple of hours, I end up trying to put out more items or rearrange what I have. Anyway, here's how it all turned out.

This is the view from inside my sewing room on a truly sunny day.  I've posted the view from the outside at night, but I get to enjoy it during the day.  Now, however, I'm anxious to get it down and get my room de-spooked and ready for sewing again!
And the kitchen window, looking out:

The front door:
The hall bathroom before the party:

And the shelf :

During the week I had the tall skeletons out on lawn chairs in the yard, while the short one rode the flowerpot tricycle with pumpkins in the back.  Not scary, but fun to view.  For Halloween, I scattered the skeletons and the pumpkins about the yard as if there'd been some random carnage. Here's a daytime view before I show you the nighttime pics:

The little guy ended up in a tree with his ghost dog below:

Night views:

The "dude" responsible for the situation:

And then there was the graveyard. 
By day:

By night:

One of the witch jars hanging in the trees to the left of the graveyard:

Remember the little casket MightyMom gave me?  This is what I did with it.

 There were "jewels" all around the sides.  I put a finger inside and the kids all wanted to touch it. Since it was made of soap (found in an Etsy shop), it was slick and just a bit slimy.  On the end, I smeared red hot glue, from Hot Blood.  It was so realistically colored--even in the daylight, it looked amazingly real.

Then I painted the glass box as well, and it held the glowing heart.
These were extracted from clients who refused to pay me.   The casket cackles maniacally when opened.

This was my table inside the gypsy tent:

My "jewels"--payment for placing or removing curses:

The shelves of potions and "trophies":

You can see the glowing heart there in the middle:

I placed the carnival mirror just to the right so the kids could see themselves when they came in.  They loved it.  I really needed more light, but their flashlights and glow sticks helped.  This is the view of the shelves opposite through the carnival mirror:

Inside the tent, I burned clove-scented candles bought from Dark Candles, and every female over 12 years old commented on how good it smelled inside the tent.  In the graveyard, I burned--of course--"graveyard" scent.  The REALLY good scents I've selfishly saved for inside the house.  Later.  For me. 

In anticipation of sitting outside and toasting marshmallows at the party, I'd bought a firepit at Ace Hardware.  They had marked it down from $60.00 to $40.00, so I decided it was a good deal, and am I ever glad we bought it, even though we didn't use it Saturday night.  Halloween night was cold, so I had the firepit set up about 10 feet outside the tent, and had those duraflame logs burning.  It was nice to go out and warm my hands, and it helped the visitors know where to go, as I had blocked my driveway with my truck, and turned out the front porch lights.  Once they saw me in front of the fire (which wasn't real easy, as I was dressed all in black, except for a red scarf around my head and lots of shiny jewelry), they figured out the candy was in the tent.

 And we had just as many kids on Sunday night as we did on Saturday night, only they were all spread out over the evening, and I recognized them as more of the neighborhood kids. One of the parents stood there and looked around and asked "Where do you store all this?"  I had to answer her, "I don't know."  

But it was worth it.